Agencies embrace credit cards

Agencies' use of government credit cards is on the rise, with sales estimated

to exceed $16 billion this fiscal year, according to Frank Pugliese Jr.,

commissioner of the General Services Administration's Federal Supply Service.

GSA manages the governmentwide SmartPay contract, which provides agencies

with purchase, travel and fleet card services. The government can save around

$54 per transaction by using a credit card over a traditional paper-based

purchase.

"It made a lot of sense for government to move in that direction," said

Pugliese, who was speaking Thursday at a government forum sponsored by Visa.

GSA expects SmartPay sales to exceed $16 billion this fiscal year, up from

around $14.8 billion last fiscal year. Sales as of the second quarter of

this fiscal year already topped the $6 billion mark.

Not only is the average size of a credit card transaction growing, but agencies

are starting to use the cards in more sophisticated settings, said Dennis

Fischer, former GSA executive and current vice president for sales and integrated

solutions at Visa. "One of the growth opportunities is to use purchase cards

in larger" transactions, he said. Visa is one of the five vendors on the

SmartPay contract.

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